Frontrunning: February 22

  • Spain’s Deficit Widened to 10.2% on Bank-Rescue Cost (BBG) - or as Rajoy would say, when one excludes all negatives, it was a surplus
  • Monti Austerity Pushes Italians Toward Parliament Upheaval (BBG)
  • Russia accuses U.S. of double standards over Syria (Reuters)
  • Euro Area to Shrink in 2013 as Unemployment Rises (BBG)
  • UK, China central banks to discuss currency swap line (Reuters)
  • Italy Court Rejects Challenge to Bailout of Monte Paschi (BBG)
  • Japan's Abe to showcase alliance, get Obama to back Abenomics (Reuters)
  • Russia’s missing billions revealed (FT)
  • China Home-Price Gains May Presage Policy Tightening (BBG)
  • Fed unlikely to curtail stimulus despite rising doubts (Reuters)
  • Banks face fines up to 30 per cent of revenues (FT) - just as soon as Basel III is passed (i.e., never)
  • J.C. Penney Can Raise Billions Under Revised Credit Line (BBG)
  • Cost of Dropping Citizenship Keeps U.S. Earners From Exit (BBG)
  • ECB's Coene: Current Euro Level Is 'Absolutely No Problem' (BBG)

Overnight Media Digest


* U.S. retailers are lowering forecasts and adjusting marketing plans as higher taxes and fuel costs are leaving consumers with smaller paychecks.

* Wal-Mart Stores Inc's fiscal fourth-quarter earnings rose 8.6 percent, helped by a lower tax rate and expense controls, while same-store sales at U.S. Wal-Mart stores were at the low end of the company's guidance.

* The cutting-edge jetliners Boeing Co had bet its future on sat grounded, unsettling images of passengers on escape chutes splashed across TV, when Chief Executive Jim McNerney sent handwritten apologies to the chairmen of the airlines whose 787 Dreamliner batteries went up in smoke.

* Hewlett-Packard Co's quarterly profit and revenue traveled a familiar downhill trajectory on Thursday. But the results sent its stock in an unfamiliar direction: up.

* Greenlight Capital Inc founder David Einhorn defended and detailed his plan for Apple Inc to issue a new type of stock, in an attempt to rally shareholder support for his plan to get the company to return more cash to shareholders.

* Google Inc on Thursday unveiled the first touch-screen laptops powered by its Chrome operating system-the latest foray into hardware development for the company best known for its Internet search and mobile software.

* Facebook Inc co-founder Eduardo Saverin doesn't expect to repeat the scale of success he had with the popular social network, but he says Asia's rapidly expanding consumer market offers fertile ground for fresh innovation and investment.

* Vittorio Colao, chief executive of Vodafone Group Plc , left the door open to the possibility of a near-term deal that would change the ownership of one of the world's most closely watched business partnerships: mobile-phone giant Verizon Wireless Inc

* Republicans head into the next budget battle with President Barack Obama torn between two long-standing goals: Strengthening the military and cutting federal spending



The European Commission's 18-month long antitrust investigation into yen and euro interbank rates has been broadened to include Swiss franc-denominated swaps.

Nat Rothschild has failed in his bid to replace the board of Bumi Plc, the Indonesian mining company he helped create.

HM Revenue and Customs has published a list of names and addresses of deliberate tax defaulters on its website for the first time in a bid to intensify its crackdown on tax evasion.

Citigroup has scrapped an old bonus scheme and set tougher targets for its new chief executive.

The Competition Commission will on Friday accuse auditors of focusing too much on pleasing executives whose accounts they are supposed to be vetting.

David Cameron seems to have reneged on a promise that he would hold a referendum on the UK's membership of the EU if he was prime minister after 2015.

Bankia will next week unveil an annual net loss of more than 19 billion euros as the nationalised lender speeds up its plan to close branches and sell assets.

BAE Systems will buy back 1 billion pounds worth of its shares over three years in an attempt to restore investor confidence in the face of sharp cuts to western military budgets.

Eurozone central banks made up to 14 billion euros last year from sovereign bonds of crisis-hit countries.

eBay's PayPal online payment services company is entering the mobile payments race in the UK.



* Responding to anger over executive pay, Citigroup Inc is changing the way it calculates the bonuses given to top executives. It announced on Thursday that part of the $11.5 million in compensation awarded to the new Chief Executive, Michael Corbat, would be closely tied to performance.

* The insurer American International Group reported late Thursday that it lost $4 billion in the last three months of 2012 as it absorbed billions of dollars of losses related to damage caused by Hurricane Sandy and the sale of its airplane leasing unit.

* For Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the tax code gave and the tax code took away. The company reported higher-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday of $5.6 billion, or $1.67 per share, up from $1.51 per share a year ago. The improvement was largely because of tax credits that lowered Wal-Mart's corporate tax rate.

* Airlines and airports across the United States are preparing for across-the-board federal budget cuts due to hit next week as if they were a hurricane, although with even less certainty about how many flights they will have to cancel and how many passengers will be stranded. The federal government is warning about delays that could begin in March, as the first cuts take effect, and reduced takeoffs and slower security lines that could worsen in April with furloughs.

* Google Inc is stepping further into the laptop business, and moving way up the price scale. The company introduced the Pixel on Thursday, a new version of its Chromebook laptops that store everything online without desktop software.

* Apple Inc has introduced more innovative consumer products than perhaps any other company has in the last decade: the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad. Now hedge fund manager David Einhorn wants the company to roll out what he calls iPrefs, which he says could produce $61 a share in additional benefits for investors.

* Steadily rising auto sales and two-tier wage concessions from labor have spurred a wave of new manufacturing investments and hiring by the three Detroit automakers in the United States. The latest development occurred on Thursday, when Ford said it was adding 450 jobs and expanding what had been a beleaguered engine plant in Ohio to feed the growing demand for more fuel-efficient cars and SUV's in the American market




* The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has concluded that 17 of the agencies which sold power to the state of California during a drought and power crisis in the summer of 2000 - including BC Hydro subsidiary Powerex and Alberta-based TransAlta Corp - unfairly drove up prices through market manipulation.

* The British Columbia government is not doing enough to protect the province's biodiversity - and it does not even appear to have a clear understanding of what biodiversity is, a report by the provincial Auditor General says.

Reports in the business section:

* The protracted and hostile battle for Western Wind Energy Corp appears to have been settled finally, with Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners L.P. winning control of the small Vancouver-based renewable power firm.

* The Ontario Securities Commission has revived its dormant case against three former Livent Inc executives, arguing their criminal convictions provide grounds for them to face regulatory sanctions.


* British Columbia's Liberal government says it can make good on its promise to deliver surplus budgets this year and beyond, by hiking corporate and personal income taxes, selling off unused real estate and ratcheting down planned spending increases.

* Amid growing U.S. protests against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, Alberta Premier Alison Redford announced she would be travelling to the U.S. to strengthen ties and promote the province's environmental record.


* Chief executive of Toronto-Dominion Bank, Ed Clark, was paid C$10.75-million in total direct compensation last year, 5 percent lower than a year earlier. According to TD's proxy circular, the pay cut was based on "a number of factors," including the impact of litigation, thought to be a reference to legal settlements Canada's second-biggest bank paid last year related to its unwitting role in a highly publicized Florida Ponzi scheme.

* The rapid development of Alberta's oil sands is leading Canada toward a "staples trap," reinforcing the country's position as an exporter of raw resources, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says.




-- China will include some micro-credit companies and financing guarantee companies into its credit service system, said the vice-governor with People's Bank of China.

-- State Grid Corporation of China said it will invest over 300 billion yuan ($48.07 billion) on grid construction in 2013, almost flat from last year.

-- The Ministry of Environmental Protection and China Securities Regulatory Commission said heavy polluters, such as metal and petrochemical enterprises, have been asked to go for environmental protection insurance.


-- China is developing a criteria to diagnose Internet addiction in children and will spend three years to develop methods to treat online gaming addiction. China will also tighten rules at Internet cafes and online gaming companies. China is the world's largest Internet market by users.


-- To mitigate the risk of protests resulting from environmental issues, environmental departments should react professionally and take more measures to improve the environment, an editorial comment said.


Fly on The Wall 7:00 Market Snapshot



ArcelorMittal (MT) upgraded to Neutral from Underweight at HSBC
Eagle Materials (EXP) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Sterne Agee
FMC Technologies (FTI) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Dahlman Rose
Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at UBS
Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman
Quanta Services (PWR) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Johnson Rice
RF Micro Devices (RFMD) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Lazard Capital
TASER (TASR) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
Total System (TSS) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
U.S. Silica (SLCA) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at William Blair


Aircastle (AYR) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Dahlman Rose
C.R. Bard (BCR) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Goldman
CYS Investments (CYS) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at JMP Securities
CreXus (CXS) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital
E-Trade (ETFC) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Nomura
Government Properties (GOV) downgraded to Sector Perform at RBC Capital
NetSpend (NTSP) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
Swift Energy (SFY) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Brean Capital
Teekay Tankers (TNK) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo
Valassis (VCI) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Benchmark Co.
Volcano (VOLC) downgraded to Neutral from Conviction Buy at Goldman
Wendy's (WEN) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse


Broadcom (BRCM) initiated with an Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Chevron (CVX) initiated with a Buy at Canaccord
Exxon Mobil (XOM) initiated with a Hold at Canaccord
Oriental Financial (OFG) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies

KKR (KKR) said to bid $75 per share for Gardner Denver (GDI), Bloomberg reports
AIG (AIG) CEO Bob Benmosche said “door is closed on crisis” for company, CNBC reports
Said will pay dividend “as soon as makes sense”'
Texas Instruments (TXN) announced 33% dividend increase, $5B buyback
Flowserve (FLS) announced 16.7% dividend increase, $750M buyback and 3-for-1 split
Wausau Paper (WPP) to close Minnesota Mill, cut 130 jobs, take $47M charge
Microsoft (MSFT), Nikon Corp. (NINOY) signed Android (GOOG) patent agreement
Frontline (FRO) said if tanker market doesn't recover by 2015 it may force restructuring
MSC Industrial (MSM) acquired Barnes Distribution North America (B) for $550M
Newmont Mining (NEM) sees FY13 gold production 4.8M to 5.1M ounces
Tenaris (TS) sees 2013 sales growth to be moderate
BioMarin (BMRN) expects first regulatory approval for Vimizim by end of 2013

Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Frontline (FRO), Cabot Oil & Gas (COG), Newmont Mining (NEM), Agrium (AGU), CoreLogic (CLGX), Marvell (MRVL), Nordstrom (JWN), Onyx Pharmaceuticals (ONXX), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), AIG (AIG), Intuit (INTU)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Portland General Electric (POR), Atlas Resource Partners (ARP), Novatel Wireless (NVTL), Flowserve (FLS), BioMarin (BMRN), Exelixis (EXEL), Frontier Communications (FTR)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
SourceFire (FIRE)


  • Vodafone (VOD) CEO Vittorio Colao left the door open to the possibility of a near-term deal that would change the ownership of mobile-phone giant Verizon Wireless, held 55% by Verizon Communications (VZ) and 45% by Vodafone, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • Nielsen Holdings (NLSN) is taking a step towards extending its TV-ratings business to measure online viewing, aiming to gauge how much viewership has drifted away from traditional TV to online outlets, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • Federal Reserve officials are likely to continue with their bond-buying stimulus program even though some harbor growing concerns the purchases could fuel an asset bubble or inflation if pushed too far, Reuters reports
  • Sharp Corp. (SHCAY) is unlikely to include a capital infusion from Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. in its turnaround plan as talks between the two companies have stalled, sources say, Reuters reports
  • Record mortgage profits that drove earnings at Wells Fargo (WFC) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) are fading as increased competition keeps the rates banks are offering on new loans near all-time lows. The amount may be down as much as 40% from last quarter, Compass Point Research and Trading LLC estimates, as banks absorb most of the costs of falling bond prices, Bloomberg reports
  • LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMUY) is poised to pursue a takeover as its revenue growth slows the most in four years. The $87B company could go after Burberry or Tiffany & Co. (TIF), Bloomberg reports

Achillion (ACHN) Pharmaceuticals 15M share Secondary priced at $8.40
EnteroMedics (ETRM) announces proposed offering of common stock and warrants
Immunomedics (IMMU) announces proposed offering of common stock
Integrated Electrical (IESC) files to sell 8.56M shares of common stock for holders
NeoGenomics (NEO) files to sell 3M shares of common stock
Vipshop (VIPS) announces proposed offering of ADS